Running Toward Pleasure

The phrase spoken in Netflix’s new “Painkiller”:

“All of human behavior is essentially comprised of two things: running away from pain and toward pleasure…….its a cycle….

This circle is our existence . It is the very essence of what it means to be human, being alive. But if we place ourselves right there between pain and pleasure…WE become the gatekeepers for everyone who wants to get away from pain then we have changed the world…….

Then you will never have to worry about money ever again”.

This is the basic premise to the Sacklers fortune and the subject of many lawsuits and legislation. It’s also the basis of tremendous suffering of many people for years as they navigate the consequences of addiction and the cause of many tragic deaths affecting millions of families.

"A drug you never knew you needed"....

Was the sales pitch….

But then later one of the Sacklers states:

"I am appalled that someone would abuse this drug". 

As a nurse, I see the residual effects of Sacklers pain pitch every single day. The pain scale is still taken as gospel and still used extensively and the Joint Commission which oversees hospitals, has the authority to inflict fines and reduce privileges and operations if pain is not addressed.

As a mom of a chaotic substance user I have walked in the depths of the Sacklers’ business model manifested as homelessness, incarceration, bankruptcy, endocarditis, congestive heart failure, sepsis, MRSA, coma, and progressive crimes to obtain the “pleasure”,

“For a minute people actually think they are getting their lives back. And they do. For a little while”

My son was the perfect model for this. He said when he was at the height of his pill use, he was the most productive he’s ever been. He also said everyone looked up to him and worshiped him. The minute they cracked down on pills, he was also the poster child for turning to cheaper and “more” accessible ways to manage his sickness. Then all bets were off. He would lose everything over the next 3 years. What bothered him the most, I believe, was losing the respect from family and friends. He was still essentially the same person trying to get by, now thrust into a world of illegal drugs, sketchy behavior to get said drugs and the loss of the ability to take care of himself and his responsibilities.

This is what struck me the most while watching the first 3 episodes of Painkiller. The irony of how quickly someone can go from being “ok” to society then have the wrath of “not ok” with all the stigma plus the world of the correctional system bearing down on them for essentially trying to manage an illness with drugs that are mostly the same. One just happens to be illegal.

I know that people who haven’t had a personal experience with addiction will have their opinion on it and might blow off movies like “Painkiller, Dopesick” and the one I based the info in my book on: “The Business of Drugs”.

“They should have known better”

“Everyone knows drugs are addictive”

Or my favorite:

“Play stupid games win stupid prizes” said by someone who is very smart and never does anything wrong, ever.

That’s fine.

Education and awareness is great but if you don’t have horses in the game, you don’t really care who “wins”.

As I go about trying to live a normal life with this weight always in the pit of my stomach; I notice this attitude throughout my interactions.

People are all going through their own struggles, and although addiction, homelessness, court hearings, jail, prison and related health issues are an immense burden to bear; others problems are big to them too.

As I was treating myself to getting my nails done the other day, I became fixated on the disparity of my nail lady’s “perceived” life and house and my life and house. Everything was high end, posh, in its place, comfy, cozy, and screamed success. As she talked about her pool cover being broken, having to pay for her boat to be cleaned, her dogs at boarding school, the struggle of buying skimpy school clothes for her teenager; I became more and more depressed. What I wouldn’t give to have what she had and wander around all day watering flowers and ordering fingernail polish instead of worrying about where my son is sleeping and if he’s eating and watching my phone for any number with his area code that could mean trouble and despair.

But when I got home and relayed all of my thoughts to my husband, he wisely told me: “Many people envy our life too, we have good jobs, lots of family, a safe -albeit small- condo, and a fridge full of food”.

He forgot to mention the most important thing--someone who loves us. 

The Sacklers’ story is an interesting one. They are portrayed as uncaring and unapologetic. They seem to believe that money will solve everything and fix any problems they created.

With money comes more options and opportunities but also different types of problems.

Would I trade my problems for others’? Some days. Would I want all the Sacklers billions? No, not if it’s blood money. Do I think having a few hundred thousand would solve most of my problems? Yes. But as it is, I am blessed beyond belief at what I do have.

As my mama always said: "If you have your health you have everything". 

My husband and I have our health, a safe and comfy home, food and vehicles and family.

Blessed beyond belief but yes, still praying for my prodigal son and all the issues surrounding that to be resolved and healed.

The other thing I realized is I can be mad all day long at the cause of addiction that barged its way into my family, but that’s not going to solve the problem. It’s not going to give my son an Intervention and break from his lifestyle. It’s not going to repair damaged relationships. It’s not going to miraculously change mindsets, and habits, and hurt feelings. All of those things have to be worked on constantly and intentionally by ALL involved.

All I can do is stay strong, healthy and loving. I will continue to get my nails done because it is a bright spot every minute of every day when I see my cute nails. It makes me think that one thing is right in this moment.

Freedom, One Day At A Time

Just over 2 months ago, I declared my son healed. He wasn’t physically….yet, but I spoke healing over him. I had to. I was tired of spinning in circles of everything that was wrong with him. I was done making deals and pleas with God.

He was in jail for the second time this year and the sixth overall from the last few years. I realized I was begging for the wrong things. As stated in my previous whining posts, it’s been a roller coaster ride. And not the new flashy, sexy roller coaster, but the old wooden, creaky, break-down-at-any moment roller coaster (where they would casually say: “You knew the risk” if something were to go wrong.

I was finished making deals and decided to get off the roller coaster, so I sent my first born incarcerated son this message of not only HOPE but of FAITH.

"Your potential is not measured by your surroundings at the moment, but by the quiet moments of your heart. Where you ache deeply for your family and kids. Where your shame has pushed you into places and spaces that smothered you into numbness.

Whatever it is that pushed you into those conditions you're in; whether it was a society who said you weren’t worthy of getting well; or your own spiral into self-defeat; you can come back.

Anytime, come back.

You’re needed. You’re wanted.

It might not seem like it.
We might be scared and worried at first, but it’s only because we care. We have been conditioned to fear the worst. So have you. That’s why it horrifies you to think of being that person you were before. After all – those were the days you needed to escape from. The stress and pressure of expectations and disappointment were off the charts some days.

What if you fail again?
Oh but my son, what if you don’t?
What if the last half or more of your life is filled with unbelievable joy? What if your kids and grandkids are gathered around you to hear your war stories? Not real war, but your days of the drug war. You won’t glamorize it like alcohol is. You will tell the cold hard truth. You will tell those precious souls that evil starts small. With a thought. A nudge. A risk. A desire for something more. You will tell them not to be afraid or embarrassed to admit their concerns. If they are in over their head, it’s the right thing to do to seek help, but mostly that ALL THAT GLITTERS IS NOT GOLD.

Come back.
So much love awaits you.

I knew the law had him by the nuggets, but I wanted HIM to WANT to come back to life. I wanted Him to make the decisions to recover, not just going through the motions. I wanted him to lead his own recovery so the success rate would be greater.

During his court hearing, his lawyer presented the name of the rehab he had been accepted to. The Judge started to approve his release from jail to the rehab when he slowly looked down at his notes. What followed was at least a 2 minute dead- silence tense moment in the courtroom, with all eyes on the judge as he looked from his notes to the computer. I knew my son was squirming inside but as usual, on the outside, he was cool as a cucumber. I was holding my breath wondering what the problem was.

Just 3 days before, my son almost got written up in jail for a problem with a jail razor not being turned in correctly. My son told me that it wasn’t him but he’s not a snitch so unless the other guy confesses, my son would probably be going to the hole for 24 hrs. I was thinking the judge was reviewing that and would punish him. At last, he spoke. It was a discrepancy in the number of cases. There was one missing. It was soon cleared up by the prosecution and the judge cleared my son’s release at 5 am the next morning.

My husband and I picked him up from that jail in the dark of the night, for the second time in 2 years. This time it was with hope, with the promise that this nightmare might be over. My son came out of the triple-locked electric doors with an old white shirt on and a garbage bag full of moldy clothes.

He was free. Would he run? My husband was prepared for that.

He didn’t. We proceeded on the 4-hour drive to rehab. The judge said we could only stop for an hour for a meal. Although I was concerned the judge would “find out”; we laughed about it as we stopped in to see his sister, went shopping for pants for rehab, and made the 9 am appointment for his CDL that was expiring quickly. We kept getting lost finding the rehab but finally made it by the 1 pm deadline. My son took his things, hugged me, and said. Thank you, Mom.

My husband and I breathed a huge sigh of relief. Almost as big as we did 2 years ago at the Las Vegas airport when we sent him off with a total stranger.

He was free, in a way. But we were too. Free from worrying about the stark realities of jail. A place where they are just babysitting them through their time there. Addiction might as well be a wart on their toe as far as getting “treated”. Although they did take me seriously when I called medical and said he was going to hang himself. They listened to the tapes and put him in solitary.

He recovered from that mindset, Thank God.

So here we are 5 weeks into rehab. There still are no promises. I’m trying to give my son space to heal. I’m letting him learn to take care of himself. When he figures out he needs something and asks me, I make sure I get it to him, no matter what the barriers. I want him to feel how it feels to have food, a nice bed, and take vitamins again. I do this because I know that to take care of others (his kids, a job, responsibilities); he has to relearn how to take care of himself.

It takes so much patience. From the addicted one AND from all involved. I feel a bit sorry for those who aren’t involved. Oh, I know it’s easier to wash your hands of something. It’s easier to push all the work onto someone else to fix what actually takes both parties to fix. It’s so much easier to say, “call me when you’re sober”. Or even disown someone. If there’s a threat of violence or abuse, I can totally understand. But to fellow humans, family, even; it still saddens my heart that they miss out on the process of change:

  • #1 The service given to a struggling human.
  • #2 The joy of watching them change day by day, week by week.
  • #3 To hear their thoughts and dreams of better days ahead.

It’s disheartening to hear:

“He’s still the same, and until he’s back to the person I want him to be, then he’s not deserving of my time.”

Maybe not in those words but it’s implied. As for me, I choose to take the good with the bad. I choose to aid in any way recovery-minded. Yup, I choose to bring him a basketball at night, when he wants to play basketball.

Because recovery is an entire mind-body and soul transformation. It's using muscles they haven't used in a while. It's feeling feelings they haven't felt. It's them leaving behind all the coping skills that they've honed in on for months and years (however illegal they were), and convincing them there's a better way- But mostly giving them the space to find it.  

He went into rehab with a bullet hole in his leg, I’m hoping he will come out with lead-strong strength and conviction in his healing. And I’m forever grateful that I get to witness it.

Hope Floats- in a Simple Black Bag

I zipped up the last zipper on the thrift store duffel bag. There was still plenty of room left in it, despite filling it with 2 pants, 2 workout pants,6 shirts, 6 white tees, 8 socks, 8 underwear, and a bag of vitamins and hygiene products. The bag wasn’t new, but it represented a new adventure for my son. No, he wasn’t going away to summer camp or college. Well, sort of a college. He would be living in bunks with other men. Hopefully no partying late at night before exams. No, not jail either. Been there done that- 6 blasted times!! This time it’s rehab. That’s right. Bring on the jokes- haha. Years ago, my sons would have been the first to make a pun about rehab, but not anymore. Well -they still might. We are a dark-humored family.

Along with the duffel bag – goes it’s companion, the little carrier pigeon. I named him Float.

This little bag represented Hope. Hope that I carried around for 16 months. When I wrote about it 6 months ago, I didn’t know if I would ever deliver it. But Hope floats. From one location to another, hope abounds.

Most Moms in my area pack bags and buy suits for their missionaries. They know their exact sizes. I don’t. I don’t know what my son looks like these days, or how much he weighs. Yet, I have no shame that my smart, funny, handsome son is not going on that kind of mission. He’s on his own mission. And after 16 months, I was able to deliver Hope Floats to him. 💙

It’s a strange feeling, you know, heading into the cinder block jail to retrieve your own flesh and blood. Sure, you’re supposed to feel embarrassed or whatever society tells you that you should feel. But all I felt was excitement & hope. This wasn’t the Morgue, which I called on his last birthday to make sure he wasn’t there. This wasn’t a hospital where 2 of his friends had been the last few months, one of which didn’t leave alive.

So I was grateful for that And a bit nervous. After all, even though the judge authorized him to leave with only me and my husband at 5 am, he could have easily taken off the minute we got outside. It’s ‘addict’ behavior for sure. But my son knew his freedom was at stake. He told me a few days later: “I’m tired of running”.

So here we are, me with a big bag and a little bag and I had my son again. Safe and sound. We spent the next few hours driving north for 4 hours as the sun came up. Hearing, once again, his stories of jail, and his hope for the future. He wants to build tiny homes and other sustainable projects.

He had been given a spectacular plea deal. Unheard of really. For weeks he had agonized over what his final plea would be and when they finally changed it at the last minute, he was happy to sign it. He went from an almost guaranteed minimum 18 months prison time with 3 years probation to rehab completion then probation for 18 months! Absolutely incredible. I would like to say my ( & all the people I asked to pray) prayers worked. All I know is I was incredibly grateful because I knew prison would only increase his criminal mindset that he had developed the last 2 years while obtaining 6 felonies all for drug use.

Over the next few weeks he would call me with his “lists of what to bring”. I gladly provide these items because I don’t want him to have any possible reason to leave rehab, which is so common. I also have lived for over 2 years not knowing if that day would be the last time I talked to him. I still don’t know & I want every interaction to be heart-centered, recovery minded, & validating where he’s at emotionally.

In life, we are not promised one more day with our loved ones. In addiction that risk is raised probably 1000%. If I can still buy my 35 year old son socks when he is unable to, I will buy socks. The maze of addiction and the correctional system that goes along with it, is so convoluted and confusing and in most cases, heartbreaking beyond imagination.

Not many people understand my devotion to my son’s recovery. 

And, so there’s not many people that I can chant victory to, even if it’s a premature victory.

As it is, My son has made HUGE leaps and bounds. He may have been legally pushed, but guess what? He stood up and took what the judge and court said and he is trying his hardest in a system that demands complete compliance from a confused and rushed brain.

My son is slowly starting to unravel the last few years and the effect it’s had on him and many others.  Its going to be painful. He’s in denial in certain areas, but he’s getting his old self back too.

He will adamantly state that he’s the same yesterday and today and that he knew what he was doing,  he just let it get out of hand and it was too much to fix. He’s facing huge challenges as he has nothing left to his name. That’s degrading and embarrassing to him. It is truly one thing that I believe kept him in active addiction. Shame and discouragement of how to even fix it all.
The path of least resistance while in addiction and being dope sick is to continue the cycle.
I wish I had more resources to help him, but ultimately he still has to do it himself. He has to peel off that sticky bandaid and face the rawness. But I can help.

I will continue to provide anything to aide in his recovery.

I will never stop supporting recovery with Love. 

Life is too short to not have hope, to BE hope and to give h♥o♥p♥e♥

So bring on the lists son. I’m here.

⛵Hope Floats⛵

My Son Is Healed

He Just Doesn’t Know It Yet

Normally on days like this, I have many triggers regarding my son and the ripple effect his addiction has had to our family.

But today is different.

Today, I choose faith. Not HOPE, but pure faith. I’m not dissing hope. I’ve relied on it for months, years even. There’s nothing wrong with hope. Hope that things will get better, is what I believe keeps people from sinking into an abyss of depression at times.

I’m going to get very vulnerable here. When or ‘because’ hope hasn’t seemed to give me relief lately; I’ve been begging and bargaining with God to take my life in exchange for my son’s complete recovery AND my family to be healed especially for my son’s relationship with his kids to be healed.

(I know, I’m always trying to squeeze in an extra wish, but I figured I could get a 3 for 1 since they are all inter-related)

I also know this sounds very extreme. Before you suggest I go to a meeting and do self- care, thank you for the suggestion. It is what it is, I come to this place with much love and clarity have done a lot of self work. I’m not very well versed spiritually, or even strong in my faith but I believe in asking for help.

So, today I asked a prophetic dreams group that’s run by a lady I met at a moms retreat, what prayers I should be chanting to facilitate my desire to fruition.

If this STILL sounds too weirded out, sorry. Desperate times call for desperate measures. My son is in jail on for his the second time this year in his 4th week. As stated in my previous whining posts, its been a roller coaster ride. And not the new flashy, sexy roller coaster, but the old wooden, creaky, break-down-at-any moment roller coaster (where they would casually say: “You knew the risk” if you were to get hurt).

So putting my question to a group of potentially spiritually-in-tune people was a desperate measure also. The answers I received, however, changed my perspective. This is a summation of what they said:

STOP trying to make deals with GOD! STOP immediately because deals are only made with the devil.
God ONLY wants Love & faith from you that he already sent his son to die for all our sins.

You can’t pay or bargain with God!

If you ask for healing you have to believe you have it, whether you see it yet or not, that’s the true test, do not confess what “is wrong with them” instead speak that they are healed.

Thank God that they are healed by his stripes, that he bore their sickness, thank him OUT LOUD for each promise, it could take a few months or sooner but stick with it everyday, do not let other people confess so called diagnosis over your loved ones in distress, either.

I start now.

I start calling my son into healing. I’m through letting him slide back into an excuse to blame the devil or some other entity. Evil can be fought. And if he can’t see it or say it, I will be his voice. He still has to be the one to do the work and to first DECIDE to do the work. So through the jail message system I sent my first born incarcerated son this message of not only HOPE but of FAITH.

"Your potential is not measured by your surroundings in the moment, but by the quiet moments of your heart. Where you ache deeply for your family and kids. Where your shame has pushed you into places and spaces that smothered you into numbness.

Whatever it is that pushed you into those conditions you're in; whether it was a society who said you wasn’t worthy of getting well; or your own spiral into self- defeat; you can come back.

Anytime, come back.

You’re needed. You’re wanted.

It might not seem like it.
We might be scared and worried at first, but it’s only because we care. We have been conditioned to fear the worst. So have you. That’s why it horrifies you to think of being that person you were before. After all – those were the days you needed to escape from. The stress and pressure of expectations and disappointment were off the charts some days.

What if you fail again?
Oh but my son, what if you don’t?
What if the last half or more of your life is filled with unbelievable joy? What if your kids and grandkids are gathered around you to hear your war stories? Not real war, but your days of the drug war. You won’t glamorize it, like alcohol is. You will tell the cold hard truth. You will tell those precious souls that evil starts small. With a thought. A nudge. A risk. A desire for something more. You will tell them not to be afraid or embarrassed to admit their concerns. If they are in over their head, it’s the right thing to do to seek help.

Come back.
So much love awaits you.

Please pray for mercy from the courts for my sons case Thursday- that he will be allowed to get help not locked up – prolonging his treatment. Thank you.

Shudda, Wudda, Cudda

Today, I “should” be taking my son to rehab.

Today I “would” be thanking the lawyers, judges, and all jail personnel for their combined efforts of treating my son like a person who is unwell instead of like a dime store criminal.

Today, I “could” be exhaling a huge mega sigh of relief, that my son is on his way to true recovery.

We “should” be walking in the door with a hastily packed suitcase (by me) with everything he needs to begin his new re-set on life after 2 1/2 weeks in jail.

This was/IS his second time behind bars this year; and #6 overall. Yup, all those old jokes and sarcastic jail comments & jokes about our kids or others are not so funny anymore. And my son would have been the first to say them.

A circus performer was pulled over by a police officer for speeding. As the officer was writing the ticket, she noticed several machetes in the car. “What are those for?” she asked suspiciously. “I’m a juggler,” the man replied. “I use those in my act.” “Well, show me,” the officer demanded. So he got out the machetes and started juggling them, first three, then more, finally seven at one time, overhand, underhand, behind the back, putting on a dazzling show and amazing the officer. Another car passed by. The driver did a double take, and said, “My God. I’ve got to give up drinking! Look at the test they’re giving now


It takes more than juggling, for a person with substance use disorder to NOT go to jail these days. They must prove that they are completely responsible and model citizens, according to society’s standards. I may be exaggerating a bit, but this morning, as I drug myself into work with the usual gnawing fear, of wondering if my son made it through the night; I find myself wondering: “why is my son in jail again? And being treated like a criminal-no less!”

It sounds like a no-brainer, I know; Until you’ve been there.

But here we were, facing years- yes, years- in prison; for possession. Possession of a substance that he used, in order to feed the cravings of his disease. I know, I know, that said substance is illegal. I get it, I do.

But I also know that there is no other disease, in which people can’t manage; that gets treated like this.

My son had a hearing yesterday, in which we thought he was signing a plea deal, after which, we thought we would scadoodle right on up to the rehab I had been communicating with for 6 months.

Since the plea wasn’t signed at the hearing, we couldn’t request to be released to rehab. So back he went into “the slammer”.

A few days, I posted on Facebook a rude email the lawyer had written me asking me if I support my son breaking the law.

I was pretty upset about the demeaning and condescending tone of it, so I didn’t even respond. Besides, it’s seriously a stupid question. Of course, there were comments on my Facebook page after I posted it, asking the same thing. “Well, do You? Don’t you think your son deserves to pay the consequences of breaking the law”? My emotional tank was on empty from receiving the email, so I didn’t feel the need to argue with someone who obviously has zero sympathy for prisoners who were addicted.

No, I don’t condone ANY illegal activity. No, my son isn’t a victim of a disease that leaves him unable to know right from wrong. But I do know that the desperation and progressive nature of the disease, leaves them unable to care when the lines are crossed.

I also know that shaming and blaming and the current punishment system don’t seem to work.

After my sons first arrest, he got on the family thread and said, “Im so sorry for embarrassing you. This is awful”. Not one person said one thing to him except me: “we just want you better, son”
He went on to have 4 more arrests until this week, the culmination of all the charges and sentencing to ensue. 😭

If shaming and blaming worked my son would NEVER have allowed himself to be arrested again.

If punishment worked, my son would have quit his disease, the minute the judge, lawyers and cops berated him the first time for not controlling his behavior.

If inflicting more trauma & pressure worked on a traumatized brain who KNOWS it has failed in every single area of life- business, fatherhood, husband hood, financially and societal standards such as housing and occupation; then giving more fines or more jail time where they can’t possibly earn the money to pay the fines, would make someone magically become responsible at that exact moment.

But no.
It all takes time. Time in the proper environment of healing. Connection, nutrition, and mental support to heal all those pathways in the brain that have suffered into unhealthy thoughts and habits.

I don’t have all the answers. In fact, I don’t have any answers. I just do the best I can each day maneuvering through the prickly jungle of addiction and all its tentacles it reaches.

As for today, I am extremely grateful my son is relatively safe. The unit he was moved to today is a bit scary, but not scarier than what he was doing while out.

Despite my ambivalence for the success of long-term incarceration; I Thank my God every day for the possibilities this short-term jail “visit” can provide.

The Scream

The scream.

Johann Hari nailed it.

Except my scream is buried inside me.

I go through my day in auto mode. The little problems, the endless chitter-chatter.
Someone needs a bandaid or an Electrocardiogram.

A mom of one of my patients wants to talk about vitamins.


What about oxycodone? Or Heroin? Let’s talk about that evil bastard that ruined my life the last few years.
But I can’t. I have to pretend I care.
I have to BE NICE.
I can’t think of my son sitting in a jail cell with a bullet hole in his leg.

Continue reading The Scream

A Patch in The Grass

I bought this piece of grass specifically for my little Chihuahua to “go” outside on.

When I bought it, it didn’t ‘appear’ to have a dead spot.

I noticed another stack of sod had the dead spot. Obviously, they had a disease or some sort of malfunction in the seed or its development. But there were a few stacked up that didn’t. They “looked” normal, healthy. I picked from those. I thought I was good as gold.

My grass will never turn brown, It’s from a different breed. I’ll water it every day and give it sunshine & rake the weeds out. All the things.”

This picture is one month later. The spot appeared almost immediately. In panic, I tried everything: Dragging my hose through my house to water it (small condo living); sprinkled it with love and fertilizer and even coffee grounds! It persisted in it’s trajectory of showing up different.

I thought about that green grass and my babies. We “get” them as they are green and cute and innocent with no signs of trouble ahead. Even though we don’t have a “keep the sod green instruction manual”, we’ll be fine right? As long as we provide everything for their growth, we are bound to see the results we expect right?

When those first patches of brown appear, such as with substance abuse; we may panic a little. But our inner calming spirit tells us we are overthinking it because of the thousands of thoughts we’ve had before that turned out to be nothing. Someone may have told us we were being paranoid.

Of course. Why would MY child do THAT? They didn’t grow up in a brown patch sort of house. They wasn’t abused or given alcohol. Their every move wasn’t controlled, pushing their little independent spirits & feelings deep down inside them, haunting them until later, when their demons came out in full force.


They were free-loving country adventure-after-adventure kind of kids. How could this be a problem? How could there be a dark brown spot lurking there just awaiting the right set of circumstances to show its true ‘colors’.

Well, it did. Whether it was there all along or developed as a result of intense stress that life throws at an already vulnerable base.- it was here to show just how ugly it can be.

What to do, what to do…..

Yell at it? Berate it? Lock it up with a little chain link fence around it telling it to be like the other strong green blades of grass around it or ELSE?

That should do it. That should scare it into compliance.

After all, no one should DARE to turn brown in this war on drugs. As people look upon them with disgust and tell them they only get one or two or three chances and THAT’S it! Narcan? Pfewwww. You better learn the first time dude, or we will just watch you die – that will send a STRONG message to other vulnerable and lost people not to cross the line of when it’s socially acceptable to take something for the pain or emotional discomfort but not get addicted.

Everyone knows where that line is, right?

Maybe I’ll just try to love it.

Maybe I’ll just accept it where it is but not leave it there.

Yesterday, the otherwise green child of mine called from jail. He is in his Brown patch of life. His brain is riddled with confused fiery darts of hell telling him to get back out there and continue this gig just a little longer. But my boy is still there. He thanked me for answering. He said thank you for never giving up on me. He said:

“Please don’t ever give up on me- you don’t know what it feels like to have someone on the outside rooting for you.”

No he didn’t want anything. He had one 2 minute call in 4 days, he could have used it for requests or rudeness while his brain is mucked up with confusion. Instead he used it to thank me and my husband for not giving up on him.

That brown patch is begging for acceptance. It knows deep down that it’s not who it truly is. It knows it’s destined for greater things. It just can’t see the forest for the “dead trees”. It’s like honey I shrunk the kids and he’s in the center of that brown spot not able to see the solution.

I can help with that view.

I can stand in the gap between a future life of joy and his present life of turmoil and strife.

I can lead the way. Just like when he was a baby and scared to stand up and walk across the room to the couch. What if he fell? I can encourage him that’s it’s worth the risk.

"GET UP!! You CAN DO it!! You will never look back if you master this. 

Just walk to me son. ❣💙❣

The Snake’s Venom

I carefully made my way up the steep rocky mountainside with my well-worn hiking boots; my Levi curvy shorts above my black garbage bag wrapped legs.  It was a hot June day in the desert, just a few hours from my house. My husband was ahead of me with the pic and hammer. That’s right, a pickaxe and hammer. I’m sure we were a sight to see. That is, if there had been another human within miles of the hot dusty desert. Him, with his ax-looking equipment and me in shorts and hiking boots, and the black rustling plastic sticking to my now sweaty legs.

Despite being deathly afraid of snakes, I had forgotten to wear pants, so I figured the plastic was akeen to wearing gloves as a nurse-to take the sting out of a rattlesnake bite. Needle sticks can be less dangerous if they go through the plastic into your skin, rather than a prick without a barrier. 

We were there to find some quartz crystals or more specifically: smokey quartz. It was found in long sparkly veins that ran through the slick, hard granite rock. The quartz wasn’t quite as hard, so it could be pryed out, with some effort.

We were avid rockhounders. Searching the deserts and mountains for precious gems like topaz or amethyst or just plain old pretty rocks such as chert or agate. The garbage bags tied around my legs were because of the threat of rattlesnakes who loved to hide in the eaves of the rocks to find shade from the blistering sun. They also didn’t like their shady spot invaded, and would strike out if surprised, so I started my usual whistling-as-I-walked, keeping my sunglasses off and watching 180 degrees in all directions.    

Normally when out rockhounding, I start to feel the fresh air encapsulate my being and I embrace the freedom of having nowhere to go and nothing to do. The focus of looking for rocks while noticing the landscape and the beautiful clouds wafting across the blue sky, is mesmerizing to me. It’s similar to riding on a motorcycle. The breeze, the scenery whizzing by- like the background of a movie; the focal point of the scene playing out in front while the world and all its problems are oblivious in the background.

Today, however, besides being afraid of the snakes, I was in gut-churning turmoil. My son had been in jail for 47 days. His longest stint so far. It had been a rollercoaster ride of solitary confinement, rehab searching, and lawyers antics.

So, little did I know, that the minute the 30 days expired, they would let him out. Without even a hearing of what rehab we had found or anything. 

That day was today, a Saturday. I had been communicating with my son via the jail messaging system for a couple of weeks and had some wonderful conversations. He had been reading a lot and seemed to have his head clearing up. That morning he had read my message but didn’t respond, and when I sent another one-the flashing message came up that said, “This inmate is released. This conversation has ended”. 

My body froze in fear. NOOOOOOO! NOOOOOOO! This can’t be happening!!

He cannot just GET OUT!!! I wanted to scream! But I was determined to not ruin my husband and I’s day of rockhounding. I swallowed the lump in my throat and squelched the tears forming behind my flushed face, and switched to Facebook messenger. I proceeded to tell my son to PLEASE, PLEASE GO SOMEWHERE SAFE!!I knew the risk of an overdose right out of jail. I knew he didn’t have anywhere to go except right back into the same environment that he got sick in.

I had anticipated this day, as a ride to rehab with a stop on the way to an addiction doctor I had been communicating with, for a Vivitrol or Sublicade shot. I had envisioned finally seeing my son after 13 months with his fresh, jail weight-lifted, non-scrawny, non-homeless body and new outlook on life.

I messaged his friend in a rampage of messages to please don’t let him overdose, and please give him a ride to the clinic, first thing Monday morning for an injection. (Yes I had talked to them and verified his insurance which was ‘paused’ while in jail- a fact that I wasn’t aware of- which caused a lot of problems finding a rehab to be released to).

Despite these pleas, I knew he wouldn’t make it until Monday without using. The process of detoxing and waiting the 7-10 days for the injection would be impossible now.  Releasing a hard-core addict on a Saturday afternoon with no stable housing, job, car, bank account or support system or meds for the cravings that yes should be gone, but the mental obsession for sure wasn’t; seems like a HUGE crack in the system. Then expecting them to show up Monday morning bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, ready to solve all their legal problems with a great attitude.

Something had to change. If my sick, out-of-control, hijacked irresponsible son wasn’t going to, then I was going to change the system. I immediately looked up the area state senator. I penned out a descriptive letter of what I thought could improve the system such as a mandatory 72 discharge “leverage house,” where they can acclimate from jail and be guided toward recovery and housing solutions. I later received a long response of everything that the state was doing to combat the drug war such as a recent traffic bust which confiscated so many lbs of meth. So basically what the last 50 years of the war on drugs, have failed to solve. Ok, got it.

Those drugs will be replaced in no time, driving the price up and increasing the risk that they’ll be cut with more deadly crap to make them even more profitable for the big wigs who never get caught.

I was defeated once again.

Who would listen?

Who would help?

I had exhausted all my money, ideas and energy. I felt alone.

Among millions of heartbreaking families suffering the same feelings, I felt alone.

Where would this end? Would my boy be one who is in the meetings telling his amazing recovery story? Or would I be placing balloons on his grave?

The only one who knew the answer to that, wasn’t talking. My God, my sole Savior that I had begged and pleaded with for 2+ years for this “problem” to be resolved, was as silent as that hot, deserted desert. I could still hear my rustling plastic bags in the wind; waiting for the snakes venom to strike -out of nowhere. As of this moment, that venom didn’t even scare me. The sharp fangs holding deadly poison was nothing compared to this piercing heaviness in my heart. The plastic couldn’t protect me from this.

I wanted to lie down and drown in the dust of my sorrowful misery.

Would this actually be my final last goodbye?

Take A Step Back

This was the message that I received loud and clear last Friday, after hitting brick after brick in the wall of my sons incarceration/ court/ addiction / recovery/ ORS journey.

My frustration turned to self reflection that perhaps ‘I’ was trying too hard {again} to guide his recovery- instead of him doing it.

It’s true, he needed assistance. He was in such severe withdrawals from being a twice- a-day IV heroin & meth user that he used on his 5th day in jail. He was placed in solitary confinement for 21 days they brought him out only for his hearings where the judge and the opposing child support attorney would berate him for his failure in life. Yet orders were given to find treatment while serving a 30 day arrest they imposed on him. So not only did he receive 2 felonies for the drug usage in a “government facility” -because he couldn’t “suddenly quit” a disease he’s had for over 3 years- but he was to immediately become responsible and display rational thinking.

I’m not condoning any of his actions or saying he shouldn’t pay the consequences of his actions. I’m just saying that I, as his mom, still love him as a human, despite being broken, ashamed, yet still prideful, and certainly not well. The court and others, focus on his wrongdoings & inflict that punishment as they see fit.

So I went to work on the research that I thought I was prepared for. As stated in my previous post on rehabs, I knew what to do. It just didn’t seem to be working after two weeks of trying.

I had to have a “come to Jesus moment” as the saying goes. I said, to my higher power: “Ok, I get it. I’m obviously not the one who’s going to make any difference in my son’s recovery, so I will step aside and let ‘whoever’ will be more effective, to come in”.

On Saturday, he informed me that he didn’t think he could be successful at an inpatient rehab and was going to try to do outpatient. This meant that he would go back to his previous life of couch surfing, no car, and no official job.

I was devastated and angry. I guess I hadn’t really let go, but certainly was forced to now.

By Tuesday I had calmed down, especially when hearing his story of a man he met in there. A man who told him the following in straight prison talk language:

I know one thing you're a hard-headed mfer you couldn't be taught anything if your life depends on it cuz you're too goddam smart- you know everything right dumbA? I bet you didn't even graduate high school cuz you already knew more than them low-paid dumbA teacher's. I was like, "do you just talk to me cuz you need to constantly talk shit?".. he chuckled and said there you go interrupting. let me finish dumbA... he said what you lack in listening skills and brains you make up for in stubborn don't quit attitude. I've seen you push through workouts till you can't get in your bunk ect.. he said you want to change but don't know how. well its real simple. you want to be successful get back to work lazy and quit breaking the law. you want to loose weight quit eating. you want to get in better shape get off your ass and work out....

Despite all the prison talk, my heart wept with gratefulness. This hard core unknown man, locked up with my son, was teaching him more about life and himself than a few dozen classes might.

Things that I had tried to tell him in the entire last year of not seeing him and employing the obligatory “tough love”, which only pushed my son further into the drug scene.

The next day, a miracle clergy man that I had happened to find, was finally able to meet with my boy with 3 inches of plexiglass between them. He sent me this message after:

“I’m sitting here outside the jail, thinking what a good guy your son is. He reminds me of my son, who was addicted too & now has been clean 8 years. I gave your son a blessing and I will pray for him”.

It still gives me a lump in my throat to think of these strangers- caring about my son. My son has never done anything for them and they have nothing to gain, yet they showed kindness in their own way.

The very next day, my son read The Freedom Model book and was blown away! This was his idea of a do-able path to recovery. He was so impressed that he wants to go to their treatment center in New York. It would be perfect. Something he can put full-on effort into and the court would approve of. It’s also primarily for businessmen, which is perfect for him because he’s an entrepreneur. The only problem is, it’s private and extremely pricey. They have payment plans but its completely out of my monthly budget.

So I don’t know what will happen next week. If he gets released, it will be back to his old routine and game-on – addiction. If by some miracle he is directed (or forced) a different way, then I will be relieved.

This is out of my hands.

It’s between my son and God.

I can only pray that my son will find his way out.

Plenty of Rehabs?

You’re driving down the street and see the sign: Cross Woods Recovery. Another street- Riverside Recovery Center. Beyond the city center is Pinesbrook Rehab. You think- “ahhh that’s nice, so many places for people to get help”. And it IS nice to have different options for different circumstances, & different insurances.

But since my son became incarcerated 32 days ago; I’ve had to take a deeper look into all of these- per judge’s orders.

The funny thing is, I HAD already done my homework, or so I thought. For over a year, I had researched instate & out of state rehabs. I have pages of emails of random rehab centers informing me of their admission policy. I even filled out a passport replacement application for my son to go to the West Indies to Eric Claptons rehab, because I was praying for a miracle to get the $14 k monthly fee. I figured out of the country-away from triggers, in a posh, famous rehab would surely fix him.

But now, when time was paramount, I ran into detours that I didn’t anticipate. Turns out: out of over 28 rehabs that I called or emailed; almost none would fit the criteria we needed this time.

This is a brief summary of my experience, after weeks of phone calls, emails, plus trying to get clarification from the courts on what exactly they would accept.

  • Haven- had prearranged this to be ready when the time came- suddenly they changed Medicaid insurances.
  • Turning Point- my 3rd fav.- had prearranged this as a back up- suddenly they changed Medicaid insurances
  • Steps- they take our insurance but it’s a $2500 room & board.
  • Ardu- same as above
  • Journey- $2000. This is my second favorite.
  • Diamond Tree- recommended by an interventionist I had looked into a while back – turns out the room & board fee is $6k! I would have had to pay his $ 5-6 k fee PLUS this one after the fact
  • Valley Camp – seemed perfect – outdoorsy-but they won’t take Addicted people from jail. If they’re out even for a day, they’ll take them. Judge says he won’t let him out until ACCEPTED by program. The program won’t ACCEPT him until he’s out🤯 Then I find out just by a casual comment that it is a 12 step boot camps which my son doesn’t resonate with anyway.
  • First Step- long term, which is great “normally” but my son is massively behind in child support since he never changed the amount asked which was when he was successful so he needs to work.
  • 7 Th Street- same as above.
  • Odyssey- same as above
  • Epic- co-pay only $4/ day! & he could smoke! But it’s 4-6 months minimum
  • Victory Homes- 1-2 yr Bible study. Would be wonderful; but when my son was in his first, rehab he called me the first night & said they had to encircle arms & sing Kumbayah. I told him that song is good for him, he’d be fine.
  • Phoenix-my 4th fav but we would have to switch insurances, so delayed coverage of when he could start.
  • Mountain Peak Recovery- My new #1 favorite! It’s probably a good thing I’m not rich because I would have handed these guys over 20 k to take my son. This is EXACTLY the environment my rehab-resistant son would thrive in. The outdoors, not forcing 12 steps or any linear recovery. Unfortunately they only take commercial Molina. This program is exactly what my son says recovery should be. They wasn’t interested after finding out we only had state insurance……I mean I get it..its a business. It just sucks…

I could go on and on. The point is, the system is so convoluted that it’s nearly impossible to find the right fit. Many told me I should switch insurances and hold out for the new one to kick in. I still may consider that. For now, I’m trying my best to help my son fulfill his court obligations while he has no resources to do that with, and with his still saturated brain that tells him he doesn’t have a problem- believe it or not!

Yes, the resistance factor of trying to deal with a stubborn, abstinent brain that “knows” what he will be successful at. Even with the court breathing down his back ( not to mention he is LOCKED UP!); he still thinks he can buy time. His disease has worked its way into his brain pathways that he still believes it’s lies.

Unfortunately, the way the legal system is set up for treating addiction, they will have no choice but to lock him up until he “caves”.

I know it’s easy to say, “he’s just not ready”/and that seems to be the case- for today. This is all the more reason for me to not bust my @$$ for certain ones that he might just bolt.

That’s what differentiates Addiction from other diseases. With most diseases, people will do anything to get treated. What we have to remember is it’s a brain disease.

With another brain disease, Alzheimers- you can’t reason with them either. They’re going to leave the stove on or get lost in their neighborhood, no matter how many times you tell them it’s for their own good and safety. The argument of no one gets Alzheimers per their own actions doesn’t matter at the point of danger & suffering. Do we tell people to deal with it if they can’t adequately function in life? It makes no sense to me to leave sick & afflicted people to fend for themselves & try to maneuver through risk versus benefits rational thought when That is the exact part of the brain affected.

But, we do have a punishment system that basically says, you do the crime – {the crime in my son’s case is only possession – for feeding the cravings of a disease he couldn’t control}.- you do the time.

With addiction, the window of opportunity to get them help is few & far between.

This is why I have come to embrace harm reduction and maintaining connection.

Please pray for another “window” for my son to receive treatment.

Harm Reduction tips & Myths of Addiction

Misconceptions about how people change.

Believing that people must suffer to change/”bootstrap mentality”;

thinking change can only look one way and is linear;

thinking there is only one way to help;

expecting a full 180 overnight; etc.

Myths about addiction and substance use disorder.

Addiction is a moral failing;

People with SUDs don’t care about anyone or anything (including themselves);

Drugs create addiction so ‘anyone’ can get addicted;

Any help is ‘enabling’ etc.

My son just wants to start over. He wants to work and start repaying. He wants to take his kids camping. As I read these comments to Wendy’s hiring a guy jusy 10 days out of prison, I felt a ray of HOPE. Please pray for my son to get out of jail & save himself!

This is the kinda energy I love to see from MadeMeSmile